Should We Have to Pay for Colonoscopies?

Christina Dodd 

Cancer is a very unpleasant ordeal to have to go through, for both the patient and their loved ones. The treatments associated with this multi faceted disease are often painful and uncomfortable, and sometimes even the diagnosis of cancer can be an ordeal in and of itself. Colon cancer is a good example of how getting diagnosed can be painful. There are a few different procedures out there that are currently being used for the screening of colon cancer, but no matter which one you opt for, in the end you will still have to go through a colonoscopy.

Colonoscopies are now the most important method of screening for colon cancer, and many different people have to get them done every year. In most cases, patients are schedules for them in advance, and if colon cancer runs in their family, they will have to go for a colonoscopy every 1 to 5 years. Recently, the question about paying for colonoscopies was brought to our attention, and the issue has raised a few eyebrows.

It doesn’t make too much sense to a lot of people that a procedure we are heavily encouraged to get because it could potentially save our lives is not free or at least required to be covered by insurance companies. The Colorectal Cancer Legislation Report Card that came out last year came down hard on the 26 states that have yet to pass screening laws requiring health insurance companies to cover regular colonoscopies.

Screening laws don’t really affect seniors as long as they qualify for Medicare, because it covers colonoscopies. However, those of us between the ages of 50 and 64, screening laws can be vital. (People who are between the ages of 50 – 64 years old are usually more at risk of developing colon cancer.)

No amount of screening laws will affect the 37 million people in America who live without insurance though, and since colonoscopies can run anywhere from $800 to $1600, it is a test that most of these people will never be able to have done – necessary or not! This is a huge problem in our country, as these people are the ones who are usually diagnosed with late stages of colon cancer due to the fact that they could not afford to get the screening tests done early on in their lives. A lot of people are dying unnecessarily from colorectal cancer because of the high costs of colonoscopies.

We are being told by doctors, politicians and the media about how important it is to get regular colonoscopies to test for colon cancer, but as long as we need to pay for the procedure, not too many of us will be able to afford it. More needs to be done in this country about the costs of our cancer screening tests before the death rates can begin to go down. However, President Barack Obama is now bringing in a form of public health care that may be a great help in this issue.